Poetic License And The Beads of Sweat

These words ~
Where I leave the loose ends
Of my day with lazy boots
They yawn at me
Two round circles
Eager to let go of where I have been –
Looking back across my week
Words are all I have had
They answer my most uncomfortable questions
They dream with me
They sing with me –
– Nicole Rushin
(excerpt from: Before There Were Words)
Here at the Wooly Yarn, I am rapidly approaching the one year anniversary of this blog, having started it on December 31st, the last day of the year and the eve of the next. While balancing in that precarious moment of temporal limbo, I made a New Year’s resolution to try writing the equivalent of one post a week … with some possible time off for good behavior. As my next post represents my 50th, a milestone in its own right, I am safely well on my way to achieving this goal and then some.
Since we are also well into the Holiday Season, and since last week was Thanksgiving, I want to take a moment to reflect on and reply to a comment left by a fellow blogger, Nicole Rushin, who also happens to be a phenomenal poet. As such, I’d like to dedicate this post to her and the artful inspiration she provides at her blog, ‘Writing As Loud As I Can’. If there were ever a great name for a blog, that has to be it.
In a previous post that Nicole responded to, as well as other posts, I’ve written about self-acceptance, non-conformism, defying both convention and the expectations of others. Of course, I’ve also written about hypochondria, conspiracy, dialogues and the unraveling of society … and well, you know the usual stuff one ponders over ones morning coffee or  navel. The basis of this post, however, is about writing and the artist.
The Writer, The Artist and I
Over the last year, I’ve thrown myself into blogging as a way of helping myself develop as a writer … the writer I want to be … not the writer in the conventional or traditional sense. Now, there are scores of ‘how to’ books written about writing, and for bloggers there are e-books not only about writing but also about marketing since it seems most bloggers these days are more interested in exploring SEO strategies and building traffic, rather than anything that smacks of writing in the artistic sense.
However, there are very few books written for bloggers about how to be an artist. Of those I’ve seen, very few have anything to do with unleashing ones creative spirit or playing with words to foster the expression of abstract and deep thoughts. You know, the stuff that really makes us human.

Very few books help you to ‘see’ … to look within or to look around. Most books either have to do with the mechanics and syntactic structures of writing as a means of communication, or they delve with morose obsession into academic musings on literature as a discipline. Zzzzz …

To be honest, I’m not sure if what artists need can really be found in a book, or perhaps even be imparted by another. What I do believe is to be creative, artist need the opportunity and freedom to ‘play’, both with themselves and with the world around them.

Real artists play with words, images and notions. They delight in the stimuli their senses offer them as they experience the world around them and their place in it. They combine the tangible with the intangible, the terrestrial with the celestial, the existential with the structural, and the mundane with the divine. Indeed, God may have divided the heavens from the Earth, but artists yearn to mix things up again.

Through their craft, artists like Nicole, enjoy creating mystical whims of fancy that take flight on wisps of inspiration. Scientists, on the other hand, like to break down such abstract ethereal ideas into concrete tangibles … especially so that they can publish a technical article or two on their analysis. For example, if you study the analytical literature on the painting styles of the ‘old masters’ in respects to form, function and style, you will soon fall asleep faster than downing a handful of Sominex and a few shots of bourbon will afford you … which I’m pretty certain is not the effect the artists had originally intended.

Taking Full Poetic License

In the movie “Walk The Line” there’s a great line where ‘Johnny Cash’ says, “Don’t give me no rules. All I got are rules!” Though truthfully I’ve never really been a student of classical literature, I do know something about the conventions of writing … or at least what the self-professed ‘experts’ say. For example, here in Greece, not only am I an English teacher, but I also train teachers how to teach the language and develop writing skills and such. In fact, at the ripe old age of 48, I’ve even gone back to school to do a masters in linguistics and TESOL. That being said, the writing I do here at the Wooly Yarn is my solace from the ‘rules’, the establishment if you will. This blog is my own personal sandbox where I like to play, and invite you to do the same.

As such, in terms of writing, or more specifically the arts, I enjoy taking full ‘poetic license’ in what I create. Here, I don’t want to kowtow to rules and conventions that might otherwise restrict my thoughts and my expression, especially since someone who’s more of an abstract thinker. I yearn to ‘do my own thing’, and relish doing so.

I think becoming a writer, or any artist, means realizing your vision in some personal way. All things begin within and eventually work themselves out. In my writings, there are times when I want readers to understand things plainly and there are other times when I want them to think for themselves, read between the lines, and react accordingly. Achieving these aims is difficult using standard sentence structure. In this sense, there is a difference between writing for ‘effect’ and writing for ‘affect’. Artistically speaking, this is why we have poetry and wrap lyrics around song, to express something more soulful than “what’s for dinner?”.

The Beads of Sweat

Very few things come easily to us in life. We struggle, toil and beat our heads against walls, often of our own making. We are admonished that practice makes perfect and that good things come to those who wait.

But artists can’t wait. They’re keen to jump into their ideas and are impatient in terms of waiting for perfection to set it. Art is messy, as it should be, because life is messy. And, from that chaos we evolve and keep evolving, as we must. Art is a reflection of that evolution; it is rarely static. A moment in life has profound meaning, and yet the next minute it is quickly forgotten. Yes, how quickly we forget.

Still, as Henry Miller once wrote, “When into the womb of time everything is again withdrawn, chaos will be restored and chaos is the score upon which reality is written.” Yes, time changes everything. It makes us miss the subtleties in life, like the feeling of a bead of sweat trickling down your neck, when you’re standing in the rain. Poets, like Nicole, notice those subtleties, as much as good painters notice the changes in texture from shadow to shadow.

Writing As Loud As I Can

If you want to know what a word feels like ‘literally’, read Nicole’s blog. For writers, she mixes advice and inspiration, and then bedazzles with her poetry which leaves its mark on your psyche. She’s also a wonderful photographer with a keen eye for evocative nature. Her photos are easy to get lost in, themselves inspiring a thousand or more words. Visit her blog and learn the meaning of ‘being observant’. Maybe you too will learn to appreciate “the delicate sound of moonlight”.

I want to publicly thank Nicole, not only for supporting this blog, but for being a champion, in every sense of the word, of the arts. Please support her by visiting her website. You can even purchase and download a book of her poetry:

6 thoughts on “Poetic License And The Beads of Sweat

  1. Jay, this is a great article.

    And your comments on Nicole very appropriate.

    There are these gentle, delicate articles and poems that emanate from her … a little silence for a day or two or three, then out comes yet another intriguing finely crafted stream of thoughts, be they prose or poem.

    Compliments on your anniversary – and excellent choice of fellow writer to dedicate it to.


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